Performing 'Burst Apart'

Beginning a gig at midnight may seem like a canny way to separate your true fans from the fair weather day walkers who are happy to enthuse about your music, as long as it doesn’t mean that they lose any sleep over it. However, since The Antlers were playing at Islington’s luxurious Screen On The Green cinema, it can be assumed that such a late scheduling was due to a clash with a feature film and the stage simply wasn’t big enough for the both of them…

The Brooklyn trio have become a touring foursome with the addition of an extra guitarist to flesh out keyboardist Darby Cicci’s dark electronic soundscapes and Michael Lerner’s pounding drum patterns. The boys appear confident and relaxed as they step out into the intimate venue to play their latest album ‘Burst Apart’ in its entirety. So confident and relaxed that Cicci has decided to eschew his shoes, treating the audience to much sock hopping throughout the evening.

Opening with the stuttering beauty of ‘I Don’t Want Love’, its layered chords almost trip over themselves as a chiming guitar picks out an infectious melody belying the emotion in front man Peter Silberman’s tortured falsetto. It’s easy to assume that The Antlers are continuing in the lachrymose – yet hauntingly captivating – style that stood them in such good stead for their previous LP ‘Hospice’, a concept album revolving around a protagonist’s agonising and disturbing relationship with a cancer patient. However, these assumptions are quickly extinguished as the band segues into the eager strut of ‘French Exit’, balanced out by the charmingly insouciant ‘Rolled Together’.

The variety of subject matter in the new songs offer a greater scope for Silberman’s lyrical prowess. This is exemplified by the manic urgency of ‘Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out’, a paean to the Sisyphean rigmarole of returning to relationships that you know should be left well alone: “One dumb night two bad decisions don't divide to cancel out/You and I divorced but not devout/Every night my teeth are falling out”.

The band only diverges from the album’s track listing once, when a serendipitous technical fault with Cicci’s Midi player means that Silberman treats his enraptured audience to a semi-solo performance of ‘Bear’ – a standout track from ‘Hospice’ that is welcomed like an old friend amongst new and exciting company. As the band close with ‘Putting The Dog To Sleep’, the band stabbing and stroking their relative instruments with the fury and concentration that they have channelled into the whole evening. It’s almost superfluous to encore with ‘Sylvia’, another old fan-favourite from their third album. With a sell-out crowd of just 100 or so avid fans chanting the song’s achingly melancholic chorus back at them, it’s easy to imagine that The Antlers will always have a willing audience waiting for them wherever they play, whatever the hour.

Words by David Harfield
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